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Everything posted by fergus

  1. Thank you for your questions about St. John, sadly time's up and apologies if I didn't get to your question. And I look forward to seeing you in the dining room at St. John. All the best Fergus Henderson.
  2. Well, yes some pause...and some don't. But we don't in the gratuitous fashion challenge them with such terms as guts on toast, livers and heart on toast certainly....quite clear and straightforward...but not gory. Offal has always been of interest...as have fish and carrots and eggs and bread... Questions about offal and it's place at St. John seem to be a self perpetuating. 9 years since we opened those dishes have an important role in the menu...but so does our pursuit of a fantastic salad. Hope that clears up the why.
  3. I wouldn't think of it as a gospel, there's no zeal or drive in what we do in that sense...it's just following our pleasures. In terms of greater demand for certain produce, who knows what effect we have and one doesn't like to presume. Again, we're not setting out to change anyone elses kitchen. Hope they come and enjoy ours.
  4. Naturally. Yes, my mothers cooking and my Fathers passion for eating and drinking... But so many elements of growing up. Reading James Bond books, going to the movies, architecture, Glenn Miller and his pursuit of his sound, Lunch at Sweetings, lifes rich texture all come to mind.
  5. Thank you again for the nice comments about the book, which hopefully will be back in the coming months. As far as the look of the books goes, I remember seeing a photograph of a North African family eating chickpea porridge in an old Time Life book taken from above and it looked fantastic, more so than a bowl of chickpea porridge would look as a static object. The pleasure captured in the photograph of the family eating the porridge struck a cord. Also photo's of restaurant food recreated for your to cook at home didn't seem to fit the spirit of the book. Also, the whole process of cooking the dishes for the book at home, with friends eating it whilst Jason took the pictures, and watching him getting hungrier and eventually downing his tools to join in was all part of the great pleasure of doing the book. Hopefully this is expressed in the photographs.
  6. The bakery was always a vital element of what St. John was going to be. When taking lunch you have your knife and fork and your bread...a vital tool in the consumption of food. So, from the off, being such a fundamental it would have been peculiar not to bake at St. John. Also, what a joy to bake one's own loaf! Thank you for your question Andy.
  7. I find there is no such thing as a typical working day at the moment. There is much afoot at St. John. A new site, a new book, wine for our sales list and of course the heart of the matter the kitchen, which is now ably looked after by Ed Lewis, our head chef...all this means that each day is different to the next. Amongst all that though there is the reassuring ritual of Madeira and Seed Cake at 11:00.
  8. It all depends. Partially it depends on how one feels upon waking, there can be some particular thing on your mind that has to be pursued. Then there's picking from the kids tea...partial to a fish finger or fish cake...there's something irresistible about the childrens tea! Or, the exciment of creating something of a delicious nature from whatever happens to be in the kitchen at home... ...and Chinatown is very nearby. What characterizes the cuisine of Bolton? Well, by Bolton one means the local food culture of Lancashire, still and area that retains an indigenous and recognisable food culture (Lancashire cheese, Hotpot, Blood pudding, tripe..the list goes on) which is unusual in an age of centralisation of politics and gastronomy.
  9. Ken Brozen's memorial dinner sadly seems to have gone the same way as Ken. But it's almost impossible to have a giddy gastronomic moment without Ken coming to mind and how much he would also be enjoying it. As to Alain Chapel, indeed a splendid chef and along with many others over the last 14 years certainly an influence.
  10. Dear Vanessa, How kind, thank you. All the best Fergus
  11. Molecular Gastronomy? No disrespect to the molecules...but I'm more a pork fat and bones man I'm afraid.
  12. Well, our suckling pigs...possibly we should call them adolescent. We use Gloucester Old Spot piglets and as you point out they are very expensive because of their potential, though I think potential is one thing, the weight of an adult pig is something else? And glad you enjoy the book.
  13. Whilst it's impossible to put a percentage on it, certainly the majority of guests seem to be open to what we do, 8 years down the line we have a solid customer base who come back time and again...for which we're very grateful of course. As with the kitchen staff we are blessed with an enthusiatic front of house team who are genuinely interested in what the kitchen is doing. It's not our aim to convince anyone of what they should eat, the bonnie attitude of the front of house staff towards the food is infectious. Many thanks for your question.
  14. Well, oddly enough 7 years of architectural training I feel has put me in very good stead for the kitchen. By nature of creating space you are going to have an effect on the manners of occupation and behaviour. With food you are also affecting peoples behaviour and manners. The treat is now at St. John I've got them inside and out! Also, I thank my architectural training for making me always question...why?
  15. Our wine list...there's many reasons why we went with an all french list, one is the old bond - the Aquataine. The simple matter of geography and appropriateness. But it also brings us back to the joy of working within the limitations of the list. Achieving a comprehensive and delicious wine list without it being an eclectic international experience... And I love Burgundy! Hope that answers your question.
  16. Constricted is not something I ever feel by St. John. Infact quite the opposite - positively liberated!! Never had the urge to banish the bones...life is all about having a bone to gnaw on. As for dishes that wouldn't fit...without wishing to sound flippant...asparagus in December...No. Pasta from 18th century England? Splendid! But there's enough pasta afoot in the world I feel. But thank you for the question.
  17. Staff recruitment seems to fall behind the fickle finger of fate, luckily a like minded bunch of people seem to find their way to our doors. If this is no the case it becomes readily apparent. The mindset?....Wahey abounds! I wouldn't presume that former kitchen members have left here 'cloned' as it were but one hopes broadminded.
  18. Yes, there's always fish and shellfish on the menu at St. John. And we treat it very much the same way in which we treat meat, cooked simply hopefully very well and simply served. For instance, todays menu has Lemon Sole and Tartare Sauce, which is exactly as it sounds...just that, but we do also serve Soft Roes on Toast (herring milt). Following on in the true 'Nose to tail' fashion.
  19. In the case of chicken necks, we get ten beautiful chickens a week and preserve the necks in duck fat and then when we have amassed enough we put them on the menu. As to sourcing ingredients, it's a treat and a joy that as well us tracking things down, delicious things seem to find us, the squirrel came to us via my mothers butcher for instance who said he thought he had something I would be interested in cooking, so it's incredibly encouraging how many well behaved producers and growers of rare breeds reared with flavour in mind rather than speed or intensisty are out there. Obtaining such ingredients is possible, if you have a good butcher, fishmonger or grocer I'm sure that with a little notice they can procure many of the things we serve on the menu. Just plan ahead. Thank you for your post.
  20. There is some truth in your post, one can't deny the hand of for instance Marcella Hazan in my cooking, nor indeed that of my mothers (from Bolton, which may explain a lot?!). But I don't feel we are jingoistic in our approach...it still, and always will come back to the spirit of time and place. Oh, and sadly, unless you hurry you're about miss the squirrel season.
  21. We came to The French House, we being my wife Margot Clayton and business partner at the time Jon Spiteri, basically because we all spent too much time in the bar I'm afraid. It seemed a natural progression that we should go upstairs and cook! I had cooked previously at The Globe, a members club in Notting Hill but it's true to say that cooking at The French House was where the indigenous nature of my cooking became more focused. Clientele? Well, still am over in Smithfield...and as happily as I did then.
  22. Not a concious decision to try and rehabilitate British cooking, it always just seemed common sense to cook indigenous beasts, fish and fowl when they are in season. So, not a 'modern British' approach, but hopefully a kind of permanent British cooking. Appropriate to time and place.
  23. Good food has an intrinsic beauty, so...why garnish? Marketing doesn't come in to it.
  24. Audrey Hepburn, with Ismbard Kingdom Brunel joining us for coffee and cigars.
  25. Such a diffiicult one to answer, there are some chefs that I admire, and I simply don't know their name, for instance the man who stokes and cooks on the open fire as you walk in to the restaurant at La Tupina in Bordeaux. In the past, Alexis Soye'. Some say he did as much for the troops during the Crimean war as Florence Nightingale with his cooking. His understanding of the feast knows no bounds, is unparalleled and at the same time rather perversely was writing a cookbook for the poor. A great man and dapper to boot. Thank you for your question.
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